ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Turning It Up
by Josh Spence
4/18/06

With a sweep of Albany this past weekend the East Carolina baseball team extended its win streak to six straight and eight of the last nine.  For the Pirates the wins couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.  The string of victories followed a five game losing streak that found the pirates at 17-12, and wandering about postseason possibilities.  This past week the Pirates picked up 4 wins in as many tries, and also secured the team’s second win over a nationally ranked opponent.  The Pirates have now played the first four games of a stretch in which they play ten out of eleven games at home, and for the Pirates, this stretch of home games could be exactly what the doctor ordered. 

Something seemed to click with the Pirate baseball team in game two against UCF.  ECU was one day removed from having their rear ends handed to them by pre-season CUSA pitcher of the year Tim Bascom, who pitched a complete game shutout versus the Pirates allowing only two hits in a 8-0 win.  The team was 2-5 in conference play with no bright light in sight, but again something clicked.  After both teams scored a run in the fifth inning of game 2, it looked like we were heading for another close ending. Then, like a light switch, someone turned on the offense.  Adam Witter singled to start the seventh inning, and like ducks in a row, three other Pirates added singles consecutively for the Diamond Bucs.  When the dust cleared after the top of the seventh ECU had accumulated seven hits and five runs. 

Since then the Pirates have been unstoppable.  The Pirates won 8-1 in the final game in Orlando, and haven’t lost since.  The string includes the win at home over 12th ranked NC State in the 13th inning, and a series sweep of Albany.  However, the Pirates have perhaps even more good things to come.  The Pirates will now play six of their next seven games at Clark LeClair Stadium including two conference series.  The Pirates welcome in Marshall (4-8) for a three game series this weekend.  The Thundering Herd got off to a slow 1-8 start in conference play but are rolling after the team’s weekend sweep of UAB.  The Pirates need to at least take the series, and a sweep would be nice.  A good home crowd should put the Pirates over the top.  ECU then will have the midweek off for the first time since the first week of the season before hosting Tulane for a 3 game series.  The Green Wave are 5-7 this year coming off a series win 2-1 over UCF this past weekend.  Tulane will be the team off from conference action this weekend before coming to Greenville in two weeks. 
 
The only road game in this string of 11 contests for the Pirates comes Tuesday night in Raleigh, as ECU take on NC State in the final match-up for these two teams this season.  State won in Raleigh March 29th 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, despite the Pirates early 4-0 lead.  ECU won game 2 in Greenville last week 2-1 in the bottom of the 13th.  This series dates back to the late fifties, and has seen nearly 100 games between the two rivals.  NC State plans to start Gib Hobson, who went 5 innings as a starter last week, allowing 3 hits and only one run on Adam Witter’s satellite shot in the fourth inning.  Although it isn’t written in stone, the Pirates will likely go with SR lefty Brody Taylor, who didn’t throw against Albany.  Judging by how the Pirates have played the first two games of this series and how well Taylor has thrown of late, advantage Pirates.  Both games so far have drawn standing room only crowds with an electric atmosphere.  This one should be another classic.

This past weekend against Albany could be big for a couple of reasons.  The Pirates as a team had no less than 15 hits and 11 runs in all three games, and seem to in a groove at the plate.  Team batting average in one week went from the low .270’s to nearly .290.  The weekend also represented chances to give some young guys work.  A lot of pitchers that hadn’t seen much time because of the Pirates depth, and solid pitching performers so far, had a chance to get some innings.  Add that to the apparent re-emergence of Adam Witter, and Jay Mattox at the plate, and the Pirates could be in business.  Here’s hoping the success continues!

Josh Spence
josh@pirateradio1250.com